Tai Chi and Addiction Recovery
When an addict enters into addiction recovery they free up a ton of time that they can use to devote to new and healthy activities. One of these activities is Tai Chi. Tai Chi not only brings physical benefits but can also help to improve mental well-being. There are even people who use Tai Chi as a type of spiritual path. Tai Chi is not enough for addiction recovery alone but it certainly can be a good activity to incorporate for a healthy addiction recovery.
What is tai chi?
Tai Chi originated in China and it can be translated into English as the supreme ultimate fist. Tai Chi was created for personal defense but it has now become more famous as an art that promotes mental health, spiritual health and fitness. It is believed that this kind of soft martial art was originally only made available to those in the Chinese society but these days it is practiced by people of all backgrounds around the globe. Tai Chi has been in existence for at least 700 years. Tai Chi is most famous for its flowing movements that are incorporated into forms. Most classes of Tai Chi will have a number of different elements that include:
- Special warm up exercises that gently prepare the body for exercises
- Chi Kung (also written Qigong) exercises that promote physical and mental health. These exercises are based on Chinese medicine and involve promoting the flow of Chi/Qi throughout the body.
- Pushing hands is a two person technique where people get to experience the combat potential of Tai Chi. This is a type of sparring, and it is possible to enter push hands competitions where contestants attempt to push each other off balance to win.
- Open hand forms include the flowing sets of movements most associated with this martial art. It can take many months to learn just one form and a lifetime to master it.
- Weapons forms are sets of movements that also involve using a weapon. The common weapons used in Tai Chi are the sword, the staff and the saber. There are even weapons forms that rely on a fan or walking stick.
So how does tai chi and addiction recovery work together for health benefits?
Tai Chi can be a highly beneficial technique for people in recovery to take up. It will not only help them improve their physical health, but also their mental well-being. The meditative aspects of this art mean that people develop an increased ability to deal with life. This can be particularly beneficial when people are facing the challenges of early recovery. This is an activity that people can practice throughout their recovery, and it will continue to bring them benefits.
These are some of the many potential benefits associated with the practice of Tai Chi:
- This gentle martial art is well-known for its ability to help people deal better with stress. There are many types of mental and physical illness associated with excessive stress, so anything that is able to remedy this is to be welcomed.
- It is an activity that can bring health benefits to people of all ages. This is why it is now so common to see elderly people practicing this activity in parks around the world.
- Tai Chi is an effective form of self-defense. The individual will hopefully never have to use the techniques to defend themselves, but knowing that they have this ability increases self-esteem and confidence.
- It increases muscle strength in all parts of the body.
- Tai Chi has been shown to improve balance. This is particularly beneficial to people as they get older because it helps to prevent falls.
- It can be an effective technique for improving pain management caused by various chronic conditions.
- This activity is often described as a moving meditation. This means that the individual will benefit from many of the benefits of more traditional meditation such as improved mental health.
- Regular practice can increase energy levels and make people more mentally alert.
- Although most forms of Tai Chi will be practiced slowly there can still be aerobic benefits from attending this type of class. This martial art is a path to lifelong physical fitness.
- Tai Chi has been shown to benefit people dealing with several different health conditions including hypertension, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke and insomnia.
- Tai Chi can be a spiritual path. This activity is closely related to the Eastern spiritual traditions of Taoism and Buddhism. It is not necessary for people to embrace these philosophical traditions but some practitioners may choose to do this. Having some type of spiritual practice can be of great benefit to people in recovery from addiction.
- One of the nice things about Tai Chi is that the emphasis is on technique over strength. This means that practically anyone can become good at this martial art if they are willing to put enough time and effort into the practice.
- It is a superb activity for increasing upper- and lower-body flexibility. This can be of benefit to people of all ages, as it increases the potential range of movement. Those who practice the activity may still be able to touch their toes when they are in their 80s.